Saturday, December 24, 2011

Blog-A-Day Countdown: Grateful for my Mom this Christmas, CatCat watches Grimm

Today will be a short post. I spent the majority of the day Christmas shopping, followed by wrapping presents.  I'm beat, and I've still got a few more things to take care of tomorrow (or rather, later today).

Blog-A-Day Countdown to 2012: #9
Grateful for Mom, Almost Ready for Christmas

In the right lighting, it ALMOST looks like someone with skills wrapped these gifts.
It's a sham though, I'm TERRIBLE at wrapping presents.

I'm on a relatively limited budget (who isn't?), so Christmas won't be over the top this year.  A shame too.. I really like being able to get things for my Mom that will just delight her.  I've written about her before in my blog, but I probably don't give her enough credit publicly.

Mom building a dog house. She's a rockstar with tools. True story.

She was married to a man for a long time (my dad, actually), who was a real douche-bag about Christmas.  He never bought her a present.. not one. We, (Bex and I), had no idea of course as children.. there were always mountains of presents under the tree.  Funny, in retrospect.. we both thought we were rich kids.  We'd easily have a hundred presents under the tree every year. Sometimes more. I now know that Mom was just the master of making a dollar stretch.  Sure..a lot of the presents were socks and dollar store items, but I never ever remember asking for anything that I didn't get. Now I realize that Dad made less than $30,000 a year and Mom was supplementing our income by training, breeding and selling horses.. and her total Christmas budget couldn't have been more than $500 most years. She really was/is a fantastic Mom and we never felt like anything other than privileged when at best, we were upper-lower class in terms of income and school districts.

Mom back in the day. Total fox.

After Dad died (in 1991), money was probably even tighter for awhile.. but again, we never felt it. I can only imagine what stress she must have been under trying to provide for us two girls. Then we had about 15 great years with the farm.. the horse market was excellent, the riding school did great and Mom was rolling in the dough.  I don't think I really noticed that either.. because she was great at keeping us grounded regardless of whether we were busted or flush with cash.

I guess we thought every kid got to haul their horses to the Ozarks for week-long trail rides.
We grew up lucky, but didn't really appreciate it the way we should have.
Now because of the economy, the failing horse market, health issues and a major house fire (totally destroyed the house.. had to completely rebuild), things have been rough. We're in a weird class of people now. Our family owns a farm that has been annexed and grandfathered into the city of Memphis. A rather large house on a beautiful spread of land, and a healthy herd of horses and other various critters. A passerby would think we're doing a lot better than the actuality.  The reality is, Mom doesn't have health insurance.. can't afford it.. and despite health issues, can't get coverage. We're too land rich for government benefits, and too cash poor to buy it. The taxes on our property run $800 a month. Not to mention a utility bill that almost equals the taxes, and the feed bill for the animals.  The farm is a break-even venture right now as people have cut back on boarding horses, riding lessons and family entertainment. Some months it isn't even a break-even. And that is just the operating costs.. it doesn't factor in things like emergencies, broken heating and air units or anything extra like vehicle repairs. But we make it.  Mom is phenomenally resilient.

The farm during a rare snowfall. Bex, back in the day, and her loyal companion "Midget" the wonder-chihuahua.

As an adult, I have a much greater appreciation for the woman she is.  Everything she has, she earned. About two years ago she had a pretty awful turn of health and we wound up in the Emergency Room.  She was a pack a day + smoker, and the doctor had a grim diagnosis. Without going into a lot of details, the doc said she'd be dead in no time and the best thing I could do was "be positive, for her sake".  The doc didn't even share the gravity of the news with her, instead, encouraged her to hang in there.  She made up her mind, put down the cigarettes and never touched one again. Her health has improved 10,000 percent from that day (I fully expected, every day, for it to be the one when she didn't wake up. It was that bad.) She still needs medical care that isn't budgeted, and she has good days and bad days, but we're very lucky she's still with us.

Because of this, I am perpetually grateful to still have a Mom. You don't realize just how much you still need your Mom until someone is standing there telling you she won't be with you much longer. At Christmas, more so than the other days of the year, I feel a compulsive need to be near her and make sure she has enough presents that she never has to feel again what it's like to wake up to nothing.. to be forgotten about.. or overlooked. 

I wish I could do more for her.  She's given almost her entire life to caring for me and Bex

Mom doesn't have anything fancy under the Christmas tree this year, but she has a lot of little creature comforts she'll enjoy.  Between my sister and I, we probably have 20 plus gifts for her to open. She'll be especially grateful for what we got her, because that's just the sort of woman she is. 

And we'll be especially grateful to have her.

On a less sentimental note, CatCat is still doing fine and has come out of hibernation to catch up on his nightly shows.

He does love a good TV Drama.  Tonight it's "Grimm".

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